Wells Fargo faces new $250 million fine by regulators

Photo (c) Pro Art Work - Getty Images

The bank is still grappling with issues that surfaced years ago

Wells Fargo is back in the hot seat. The Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has fined the bank $250 million, charging it has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices related to its 2018 compliance consent order.

“Wells Fargo has not met the requirements of the OCC’s 2018 action against the bank. This is unacceptable,” said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu. 

The regulator also placed limits on the bank’s future activities until it addresses specific issues in its mortgage servicing department. In 2018, Wells Fargo agreed to pay a $1 billion fine after regulators said it failed to deliver on promised adjustments to customers' interest rates on mortgages and automobile loans. It was also accused of making car loan customers buy unnecessary insurance policies.

“The OCC will continue to use all the tools at our disposal, including business restrictions, to ensure that national banks address problems in a timely manner, treat customers fairly, and operate in a safe and sound manner,” Hsu said.

Working on its reputation

Wells Fargo has worked since 2016 to restore its reputation with consumers after its employees were found to be opening credit card and checking accounts in customers’ names without their knowledge or consent. An analysis of reviews posted on ConsumerAffairs shows the bank is making some progress in that area, but reviews remain mixed.

Lawrence, of Florence, Arizona, is one of the consumers giving the bank a 5-star review lately, praising improvements in the way deposits and transfers are handled.

“I have five accounts and can see and work with all of them, including credit card accounts and personal loans,” Lawrence wrote. “Direct deposit is very easy. And you are protected from fraud. No need to call them anymore because you can chat 24/7 with a real person.”

But Liza, of Edgewater, Florida, has had a very different experience. She told us she has a merchant account and has found customer service lacking.

“Every time I try to reach anyone I get a customer service agent that can't get answers and most of the time I never even get a call back,” she wrote in a post. “I'm extremely frustrated and disappointed and quite frankly am ready to hire an attorney.”

More work to do

As for the latest OCC action, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said the bank has been working on getting things right and has lately been focused on areas singled out by the OCC.

“The OCC’s actions today point to work we must continue to do to address significant, longstanding deficiencies,” he said.

The OCC also issued a cease and desist order against the bank that requires Wells Fargo “to take broad and comprehensive corrective actions” to improve the execution, risk management, and oversight of the bank’s loss mitigation program.

Take a Financial Relief Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.